Food

The Best French Desserts to Cook at Home

by Alessia Armenise

Nothing says French cooking more than a decadent dessert. Delicate macarons to feel like Marie-Antoinette, éclairs filled with the smoothest chocolate cream, or tiny yet delicious chouquettes to indulge in an especially gourmand breakfast—there are so many incredible options for a sweet tooth that it would be impossible to decide on just a few.

Left: Stohrer, the oldest patisserie in Paris, is pictures with its usual queue of clients. Right: A cute little piece of Tarte Citron Meringuée is captured in a dish with a spoon and a fork.
Top left: Tarte Tatin / Top right: Paris-Brest, @mauricettefrenchfood
Left: Stohrer, @emilytaubert / Right: Tarte Citron Meringuée, @mauricettefrenchfood

Even though France is the world capital of pâtisserie, there are a few classic desserts that best represent the country and its love for anything sweet (and buttery). From east to west, every region has its own specialities, equally delicious and indulgent. We’ve selected five of the best French desserts to cook at home. Taste a bit of France, wherever you are.

Île flottante

Île flottante—literally “floating island”— is as good as it is spectacular to bring to the table. A simple dessert made of vanilla custard topped with a floating meringue, usually finished off with salted caramel and sliced almonds. If you are searching for a showstopper for your next dinner, look no further.

Find the classic recipe here.

Left: A photo of a Parisian building in pink paint is captured along with the store on its ground floor. Right: A photo of the famous french dessert Île Flottante.
Left: Paris 5e, @citygirl_paris / Right: Île Flottante, @sarah.thermomix

Paris-Brest

Created in 1910 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race, the Paris–Brest is still one of the most loved French pastries. Light and crispy choux pastry is filled with the most delicious praline custard, and it can be served as a small pastry or a cake-like dessert.

Find the classic recipe here.

Left: The french dessert Paris-Brest is beautifully captured with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Right: The Parisian rooftops at sunset, with the golden sky in the background.
Left: Paris Brest, @desserteaseme / Right: Paris, @grandiphotos

Canelé

Canelé is a traditional small pastry from the Bordeaux region, in southwest France. The bite-sized dessert is filled with custard, caramelised on the outside, and is flavored with rum and vanilla. Perfect for a coffee or tea break, and as a mignardise at the end of a dinner.

Find the classic recipe here.

Left: A batch of Canelé on a plate, with one sliced in half to show what's inside this dessert. Right: A slice of Tarte Citron Meringuée.
Left: Canelé, @tetote_kurinoko / Right: Tarte Citron Meringuée, @cornercoffeemetz

Tarte Tatin

This is probably one of the most famous French deserts around the world. Imitated by many but perfected by few, the traditional tarte tatin was invented by the Tatin sisters and served in their hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron. An accidental upside-down apple pie that secured the pair international (and forever) fame.

Find the classic recipe here.

Tarte au citron meringuée

The most decadent of lemon-based desserts, the tarte au citron meringuée is a mouth-watering way to end any meal. A delicate buttery crust is filled with lemon custard and topped with a thick layer of meringue. The higher the meringue, the better.

Find the classic recipe here.

On the left is a photo of the popular french dessert Canelé. There are 3 brown canelés on the photo. On the right is a photo of the french dessert Tarte Citron Meringuée which is a lemon pie with meringue.
Left: Canelé, @restaurant_a_laise / Right: Tarte Citron Meringuée, Alex Loup

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Written by Alessia Armenise for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates. 

Written By

Alessia Armenise

Alessia is a writer and creative based in Paris. After a few years working in London, she moved back to Paris and now writes freelance for media and brands, specialising in eco-luxury, slow travel and sustainability. Her work has been featured in Stylist, Milk Magazine and Grazia France among others. She also runs a sustainability and slow living focused website called Pretty Slow and hosts a podcast called Pretty Good Business. View Alessia Armenise's Website

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